There’s no doubt about it, kids and grandparents have a special relationship, and spending quality time with them can only strengthen the bond.
It pays to put a little thought into ways to pass the time with the younger generation. Sometimes, though, finding activities for seniors and kids to do together can seem daunting. If you’re short on ideas, we’ve got a few suggestions to start you off.
Learning About Family History
Kids are fascinated by the days gone by, and they can be downright intrigued when stories of the past involve their own personal history. Help connect children to their roots by sharing tales of your youth or highlights of family history. Don’t forget to bring out some old family photos, letting them see the cottage where you spent your childhood summers or your aunt Jenny, who was like a mother to you. You could even turn family history into a project, say, creating a family tree poster together, or letting your grandkids interview you for an oral history, recording it on an app or an old-fashioned tape recorder.
In a time when preschoolers are adept at using iPads, grandchildren of almost any age could easily be persuaded to share their knowledge of things computer. For instance, if you haven’t got the hang of social media yet, your grandkids might jump at the chance to show you the ins and the outs of Facebook or Pinterest. Or you could just spend time together watching videos on YouTube, playing online games or exploring different apps. There’s also a plethora of kid-friendly websites to check out, such as Funbrain, which creatively teaches math and other skills (think math baseball or space slingshot), or Funology, where kids can learn to build a mini-igloo on their dinner plate. Finally, when you’re back at your home, be sure to keep in touch between face-to-face visits through Skype calls.
Snuggling up and reading with your grandchildren is an excellent low-tech way of bonding, and there is no shortage of fabulous children’s books to choose from, many of them stunningly illustrated to boot. Whether it’s Zombies in Love, Anne of Green Gables or Harry Potter, reading together can expand your grandchild’s world and improve their reading skills, all the while strengthening your relationship with them.
Playing Games and Puzzles
Playing games or puzzles is another low-key way to hang out with grandkids. Jigsaw puzzles or simple card games such as Go Fish or War are good choices for the younger set, while Qwirkle, a tile game where players create rows and columns of matching colors and shapes, has a broad appeal (no reading is required). For children who are a little older, consider word games like the fast-paced Bananagram, where everyone plays at once, or the old stand-by Scrabble. Games that involve strategy such as chess can be a good option for an older child, as can Pictionary, where players try to identify words from their teammates' drawings.
Planting a Garden
Sometimes you just have to get outside with the kids -- if that’s the case and you’re the gardening type, ask the grandkids to join you out back. A simple starter project is to have them plant trays of annuals like cosmos, petunias or snapdragons. If they want to grow plants from a seed, sunflowers are a good pick since they grow exceptionally fast. On the veggie side of things, choose fast-growing veggies like radishes, cherry tomatoes, snow peas and lettuce for your grandkids to grow. If they are especially enthusiastic about the growing business and you’ve got the space, give them their own patch of land to plant, weed and water.
Going on an Excursion
A sure-fire way to get kids excited is to plan an excursion, whether it’s a visit to a nearby petting zoo to observe cows and sheep, or a trip to an aquarium full of amazing sea creatures. If you want to encourage physical activity, a hike on a nature trail can do the trick, and an outing to the beach or a neighborhood pool is a fail-safe way to get them splashing, swimming and moving around. On the cultural end of things, it’s hard to know where to begin – but museums, puppet shows or kid-themed plays, and musical shows are usually safe bets.
This is just a start on the ways to spend leisure time with the young ones in your life. Do you have any favorite activities you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let us know!
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